Eve Online to add real-life exoplanet data for citizen scientists
February 23, 2017 // 11:09 a.m.
Massively multiplayer space-faring graphical spreadsheet Eve Online is drafting its passionate player base in to doing real, actual science, with creator CCP Games announcing that gamers will be able to begin searching for real-life exoplanets within the game's virtual universe.
Eve Online is best known for its complexity and the oft-Machiavellian machinations of its in-game corporations. CCP Games' latest update, though, promises to harness the power of the players for real-world good by allowing them to search through real-world astronomical data in the hopes of finding evidence of exoplanets - planets outside our own solar system.
It's not the first time CCP Games has turned Eve Online into a mechanical Turk: The company's Project Discovery division previously allowed players to classify human cells as part of the Human Protein Atlas project, which the company claims was hugely successful. 'We were thrilled to see the successes of our first foray into citizen science, in which Eve players have been voracious contributors to the database of the Human Protein Atlas,' claimed Andie Nordgren, Eve's executive producer. 'In searching for the next dataset for our massive player community to tackle, the stars aligned for players to have the opportunity to directly contribute to the search for new planets with a world-renowned scientific team. Real people around the world collaborating in a virtual universe to explore the real universe is the stuff science fiction, and soon science fact, is made of.'
Under Project Discovery's second iteration, players will be given astronomical data from the University of Geneva and asked to classify it; when a set number of players have reached consensus, as a means of limiting mistakes or deliberate misclassification, the data is sent back to the University and used in the search for exoplanets. A launch date for the new Project Discovery hasn't yet been provided, beyond the promise that it will be available before the end of the year, with more information due to be revealed during the company's Eve Fanfest 2017 in Iceland this April.